“Age shall not wither her …” rest of quote? – Blog visitors

May 9, 2013


On January 12, 2012, I posted “Age shall not wither her …” – Wole Soyinka quotes WS at Lady SAN’s 75th”, a report of a lecture presented by Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka to mark the milestone.  The essay was first presented to readers of my weekly column in The Nation on Sunday back in March 2007.

Since its inclusion here over a year ago, “age shall not wither her”, “Folake Solanke”, Lady San”, etcetera have been perhaps very popular search terms; also very regular have been “toriola solanke”, “professor solanke”, “professor toriola solanke” and other variants referring to Mrs Solanke’s late husband.

I have decided to answer the request above simple question posted by a blog visitor and questions of others about – “age shall not wither her …” rest of quote? –  about two weeks ago to include where the line occurs in Antony & Cleopatra, Act II, Scene II although all I had to do was google “age SHALL not wither her …, Shakespeare.” The quote first:

Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety; other women cloy
The appetites they feed, but she makes hungry
Where most she satisfies; for vilest things
Become themselves in her, that the holy priests


Bless her when she is riggish.

Enorbabus, Antony & Cleopatra, Act ll.Scene II

I came up during the era when Nigerian college – secondary-level education – students took pride in committing to memory huge chunks of Shakespearean memorable verses and these students were not limited to those studying arts subjects.  In spite of that fact and in spite also of a fact that I had once received Shakespeare’s Complete Works as a Literature Prize, those lines were really new to me in 2007.

From the way I mangled the auxiliary verb “can”not for “shall”not, it is apparent I WAS not an Antony and Cleopatra fan.  There’s a difference between “cannot” which came from my typing – my brain –  and “shall not” which came from one WS and relayed to the audience, including me, through our very own WS!

About a month after the essay on Folake Solanke popularly referred to as “Lady San” for her achievement as the first woman Senior Advocate of Nigeria, I posted another old essay, a tribute, earlier written to a dead friend who was an engineer and a soldier whose love of Shakespeare, especially Julius Caesar, saw him able to recite passages from that tragedy throughout his time on earth:

Such was the love for and of reading – and studying – I must say, that characterized Nigeria’s education of an earlier era, vestiges of which continue to live in those of us who were lucky to have benefitted from it.

While Soyinka’s lecture had the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the Slave Trade as its main subject, it was from his closing remarks that I knew he had just handed me a perfect title for a memorable lecture for a truly deserving Lady.

“In closing the lecture, Soyinka praised the celebrant for her great achievements, including an eye for details (Lady SAN once sent a particular correction on his Ake, the years of Childhood – twice because she had noticed that it was not corrected even in the second edition!), and quoted another master in describing her classic beauty:  ‘…Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale/Her infinite variety …’”  – Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra.


Folake Solanke, 1st Class Degree in Mathematics, Attorney-At-Law (Senior Advocate of Nigeria), member of the Service Club, Zonta International of which she has served as president at local level, District Governor for the West Africa Region and International President, the first African to hold the position; she holds many chieftaincy titles across her Nigeria’s Southwest Yorubaland homeland.

Thursday, May 9, 2013: 3:16 p.m. [GMT]

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